The Ultimates Vol. 2, Homeland Security.
Mark Millar, Brian Hitch (Illustrator)
Paperback: 192 pages (June 1, 2004)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
ISBN: 078511078X

The ambition of this series is matched only by its amazing ability to be completely off schedule. This would storm the charts if it got released on time. Thankfully, Marvel are taking steps to correct this and with Vol. 3 starting in December, it? a good a time as any to review the last major outing for the U.S.? Ultimate Defence Deterrent.

Set in the re-imagined, up to date ?ltimate?Marvel universe, this is a heavily re-worked concept of the Avengers. A state sponsored super-hero lead arm of Shield, The Ultimates are the U.S. response to the mutant terrorist threat. In the main, this storyline is pretty much re-dressed classic Marvel action, an Independence Day retelling of the Skrull Invasion scenarios. It? Millar? snappy dialogue and the messed up interpersonal relationships between the characters that make this so unmissable.

Millar and Hitch expand on the work they put into The Authority, with widescreen action and SFX that would just kick the ass of any major movie if anyone ever got enough greenbacks together to film their stuff. Hitch is for me probably the best penciller out there at the moment, making the delays between issues worth while. Whilst comparisons with this series to Wildstorm? are inevitable, the actions of The Ultimates as a state sponsored group are very different from that of The Authority? anti-establishment operation, who are practically hippies with superpowers and a huge space ship. In contrast, Captain America, Iron Man and others are cast as prefect representatives of the status quo. Luckily the irony of this is not left on the writers. All of the characters are less than super inside, be it in their morality or other aspects of their personal lives.

Standout moments are many, but they include an almighty fleet of SHIELD heli-carriers, and Captain A facing off against his old WW2 alien nemesis, with one of the best one-liners I?e ever read.

This is super hero comics refined to the Nth Degree. ]]>

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